spinach, mushroom, brie and sweet pepper toastie

Plant Power

As a veggie, or just someone trying to include more vegetables in their diet, you have a plethora of interesting options and opportunities with regards to meals and recipes and there's a vast amount of veg available at dirt cheap prices. Cooking with veg encourages creativity, leading you to ask questions like, "What would happen if I fried this?" or "How could I season this?" Cook with friends or partners and have fun exploring flavours you would not have known about if you had just stuck to meat.

Another component to veggie cooking that makes it instantly enjoyable is the convenience and ease of it. There's less to worry about with regards to ensuring everything is cooked well enough. So if you're lazy, it's perfect as you can't undercook most vegetables to the extent that it's detrimental to your health.

Environmental Impact
There's quite a debate with regards to the carbon footprint of a vegetarian diet and whether or not it's better or worse for the environment due to dairy not being far behind the most greenhouse gas emitting meats (cattle, goat and sheep). It is, however, significantly better than the average UK diet which, as revealed in a study conducted by John Hopkins University, contributes almost 2K kilograms of carbon to the atmosphere; significantly more than the 1.2K kg from a vegetarian diet. The vegan diet contributes just 200kg.

Fitness and Health
Biologically the digestive system breaks down vegetables quicker than meat. Eating less meat means you're cutting the risk of high cholesterol linked to heart disease and clogged arteries. Having a balanced diet is ideal as you need protein but not primarily eating meat means you have a greener diet which is overall better for you.

Buying loose veg is easy and affordable. Most vegetables can be bought for pence. A main staple of most dishes, onions, average at 8p each. A simple vegetarian pasta meal can cost under £3.

Tag '20 interviewed student Alfie about why he is a vegetarian.

Why did you choose to have a vegetarian diet? I have been all my life, but ever since 7–8 I was given a choice whether I wanted to change diet, but I decided to stay veggie. Personally I don't support the meat industry and am against the unnecessary killing of animals for food. I can live on what I'm eating and have done so my whole life.

Tag: Would you ever consider changing your diet?I have gone vegan before for short periods – specifically for Veganuary. I have never carried on long term but definitely would like to. I didn't mind going vegan and actually enjoyed it as more of a challenge.

Tag: Where do you buy vegetarian food and is it convenient?Nowhere specific, but I tend to go to bigger chains for food because they stock more and have more options.